Just as we are constantly thinking as human beings, our
level of awareness that we are doing the thinking is
constantly changing. This constant shifting in our
awareness of ourselves as the thinker is what is known as
changing "moods." Up, down, up, down,
every minute, every day, our mood level is on the
go. For some people, mood shifts are slight--for
In either case, the fact remains: we are never in
one place emotionally for too long. Just when it
seems like life is going smoothly, bam, our mood level
drops and life again seems rocky. Or, just when life
seems hopeless, our mood lifts and everything seems all
When you're in a high mood, life looks good. You
have perspective and common sense. In high moods,
things don't feel so hard, problems seem less formidable
and easier to solve. In a high mood, relationships
flow easily and communication is easy and graceful.
In low moods, life looks unbearably serious and
hard. You have little perspective; it seems as if
people are out to get you. Life seems to be all
about you. You take things personally and often
misinterpret those around you.
characteristics of moods are universal. They are
true for everyone. There isn't a person alive who is
happy, fun to be around, and easygoing in a low mood, or
who can stay bummed out, defensive, angry, and stubborn in
a high mood.
Our Moods Are Always Changing
People don't realize their moods are always on the
run. They think instead that their life has suddenly
become worse in the past day, or the last hour. Take
the example of a client who came to me initially because
he perceived himself to have serious relationship problems
with his wife. He came to my office on two
consecutive days. On the first day he was glowing,
even bragging, about how much fun he'd had with his wife
over the weekend. As he described it, they had
laughed, played, talked, and taken romantic walks.
Clearly, he was in a high mood. The next day he came
in complaining about the lack of gratitude he felt from
his wife for all he was doing for her. "She
never appreciates anything I do," he said.
"She is the most ungrateful person I've ever
"What about yesterday?" I asked.
"Weren't you telling me how wonderful everything was
"I was, but I was dead wrong. I was deceiving
myself and have been for our entire marriage. I
think I want a divorce."
Such a quick and complete contrast may seem absurd, even
funny--but we're all like that. In low moods we lose
our ability to listen, and our perspective flies out the
window. Life seems serious, important, and urgent.
Moods Are Part of the Human Condition
Moods are a human condition. You can't avoid
them. You aren't going to stop changing moods by
reading this book--that can't happen. What can
happen is that you can understand that moods are a part of
being human. Rather than staying stuck in a low
mood, convinced you are seeing life realistically, you can
learn to question your judgment when you're in this
state. You will always see life and the events in it
differently, in different moods. When you are in a
low mood, learn to pass it off as simply that: an
unavoidable human condition that will pass with time, if
you leave it alone and avoid giving it too much attention.
With an understanding of moods, we can learn to be
appreciative of our highs and graceful in our lows.
This contrasts sharply with what most of us do in a low
mood--where we try to think, figure, or force our way out
of it. But you can't force your way out of a low
mood any more than you can force yourself to have a good
time doing something you don't like. The more force
(or thought) you put into it, the lower you sink. . . .
When we understand the power that our moods have on our
perspective, we will no longer need to react to or be
victims of them. Things will eventually appear to us
very differently if we just let them be, for now.
people believe they can only be happy when their
problems are solved, relationships improve, and
goals are achieved. In this simple guide, Dr.
Richard Carlson shows readers how to be happy
right now — no matter the situation. His plan,
based on the principles of Thought (thoughts are
voluntary); Mood (thinking is a voluntary function
that varies from moment to moment and these
variances are called moods); Separate Realities
(everyone thinks in a unique way and lives in
separate psychological realities); Feelings
(feelings and emotions serve as a barometer for
when one is “off-track” and headed for
unhappiness); and the Present Moment (the only
time when genuine contentment, satisfaction, and
happiness are possible).